Two years into his reign as Chicago's longest-serving mayor,Richard M. Daleytook advantage of the state's convoluted pension system to significantly increase his potential payout while saving $400,000 in contributions, a Tribune/WGN-TV investigation has found.
Daley, a former state senator, made it happen by briefly rejoining the legislative pension plan in 1991. He stayed there just one month before returning to Chicago's municipal pension fund, but the switches made him eligible for benefits worth 85 percent of his mayoral salary — a better rate than all other city employees receive.
He was just 49 years old at the time. Even if Daley had never won another election, he could have started collecting a public pension at age 55 of $97,750 a year. Without the steps he took, his public pension benefits at that age would have been worth just $20,686.
Of course, Daley went on to win five more elections, remaining ensconced on the fifth floor of City Hall for the next two decades. When he retired last May, his pension benefits had grown to $183,778 a year — about $50,000 more than he would have otherwise received.
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